We are a family.
The family of divine guidance.
Robust deciduous and evergreen.
In the beginning, I weep for Deborah.
Holding her body beneath my roots.
Final resting place.
Breath renewer, death keeper.
Humble Servant, creation holder, life giver
Through renewed growth, through robust strength
I make things new.
Isaiah speaks my name “ayil” strength and power.
Pillar-like my twisted frame holds wisdom and life.
Catching whispered conversations that blow on soft warm winds.
Yet I am strong enough to carry you through the toughest storm.
Tall enough to cast rooted sunlit shadows.
In death, I follow the sunrise.
Brine waters cling to my uprooted oar.
Carved into a reimagining, I am renewed.
Journey maker, power giver, communicator.
In the midst of the seas, my wisdom is not lost.
In the depth of the oceans, I will be with you.
I plant acorns of hope ploughed into Gods creative garden. Cups of treasured potential rooted and grounded in love.
We believe our family differences are a gift. Growing in a rich substrate of equality and inclusion.
We believe our canopy is a place of shelter and rest for all of creation.
We honour all those that have cast colourful shadows before us.
We take joy from the stories and legends that carry our name.
We believe in the wilderness, our roots will reach water. We believe when we grow on the margins we will be nourished.
We acknowledge that growing is painful. We acknowledge this pain breathes Gods generous gifts across the landscape.
We look to the ruler that shares it’s bounty of acorns amongst the kingdom.
The first seeds I remember planting were the pips from an apple.
They reached maturity and produced their own harvest. I have to admit the apples produced by our trees had little resemblance to the parent plant.
They where sour tasting apples hardly fit for eating. I remember the screwed up face I made the first time we ate our harvest. Trying to convince myself they where good.
I grew up watching these trees change with the seasons. They out grew the pots on the kitchen window seal. Became rooted into the ecosystem of my Great Aunties garden . They saw me though school, marriage and the birth of our daughter . When auntie died the apple trees in her garden remained firmly planted in my memory.
When I opened my hand as small child I received two apple pips. My plan was to grow apple trees to produce apples we could eat. Apples that would taste as good if not better than the parent plant.
We could have never seen the world of wonder that these seeds would grow.
This blog is not about growing apple trees, it’s not even about bad tasting apples but about the plans God has for all of us.
I think about Gods plans for us and how they are often so very different to our plans.
I wish I could say that God’s plan will always makes sense, but it doesn’t. I wish I could say that God’s plan will always make us feel good, but it doesn’t do that either.
I wish I could say that God’s plan will always make our lives easier and more comfortable, but I am fairly certain that’s not the case.
God’s blessing doesn’t always come as Red sweet tasting apples.
It might even come in a harvest of Red bitter tasting apples. Grown with love and memories that will live on in my heart. Memories that have helped me to see who I am, and where God might be calling me.
Psalm 104 The Message (MSG)
What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
This is the first of five blogs; Reflections from my retreat weekend at Hilfield Friary.
Hilfield’s vision statement shares and reflects many of my own personal values. It’s a place that’s Rooted – seeking to live simply and gracefully, caring for the land that we have been entrusted with.
It’s Christain – Following Christ caring for the poor and marginalized of our society and all of creation. It’s Family – welcoming all people and creation.
These values are choices that we choose to live by.
My first reflection is from a guided time of prayer “ choose life”
Choose a vision.
Choose a cause.
Choose a different way.
Choose to respect the past and the present.
Choose to look for the little things in the places you would least expect to find them.
Walk bare footed in dew laden grass.
Choose to plant.
Sow in context.
Choose to wait.
Choose new paths.
Choose to see what happens.
Choose to love those awkward shapes.
Choose to listen.
Accept we all make bad decisions.
Choose to change.
Keep pathways open for conversations.
Choose to stop .
Choose to ask for help.
Choose to be fruitful.
Choose to accept gifts.
Embrace the hidden path ways of the journey
Choose to be rooted and grounded in love.
My garden in no Eden, it’s certainly not paradise. It’s far from prefect. The makeshift bamboo trellis bows and bends under the weight of the overgrown kiwi plant. Wobbly uneven brick paths weave their way through the borders, rotten fences, cracked patio slabs all give my garden a natural unkept look.
These imperfections can only be found in the hard landscape of the garden. The landscape that is created and chosen by me. The soft landscape is living part of my garden; plants ,mulch, dirt, lawn, trees and shrubs all make up softscape.
The soft scape is that perfection that we often long to achieve. Perfection in such abundance cannot come from us. It can only come from our creator.
A magnificent Yew tree punctuates and dominates the soft landscape of my garden. Its hidden treasures are the Red berries ( Arils) each encasing the seed.
The yew tree has a strong christian heritage. It’s a tree that regenerates, it’s branches reach down into the ground to grow new stems, which then rise up around the old central growth as separate but linked trunks. After a time, they cannot be distinguished from the original tree. This self renewal is a symbol of death and rebirth, the new that grows out of the old.
It’s bark is distinctly Red, especially when wet from rain. The Red heartwood and White sapwood, symbolise the blood and body of Christ. It’s a tree that is full of stories mystery and folk tales.
The yew that grows in my garden has woven itself into my life story. It was under this tree that I was reborn, renewed found that love that comes from knowing Jesus.
I see this tree as my tree of life. I am not seeing it as the tree of life in Genesis and Revelation. To me personally it’s a tree of new beginnings it’s a tree that loves.
Under its protective evergreen canopy my world changed. Its soft branches in the coolness of an April morning created a space filled with an abundance of love. A space that I received the love that come from Christ . It’s this love that changed me and changed my world forever.
There is nothing more powerful or joyous than the love that comes from Christ . To know this love is to live abundantly.
My yew tree lives abundantly in my garden and in my heart.
When we live abundantly our lives change, we see things that had until that time remained hidden. I see the perfectness in creation.
I see the Red Arils on my Yew tree and stop, pausing long enough to see God at work in my life and in my garden.
This weeks six on Saturday is a little homage to Taxus Baccata.
Genesis 2:8-9 The Message (MSG)
8-9 Then God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. He put the Man he had just made in it. God made all kinds of trees grow from the ground, trees beautiful to look at and good to eat. The Tree-of-Life was in the middle of the garden, also the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil.
I am very slowly planting a Bible garden ( featuring plants from the Bible). It’s a garden that has no plans other than to grow plants along side Scripture.
It’s bringing my world of Gardening into God’s word, inviting people to share something of me when they visit my garden.
Researching and discovering new plants excites me. I’ve purchased a Bible garden book to aid with planting and research. It’s a great book to inspire plan and think big.
One little gem of a plant featured in the book is Corn Cockle “ Agrostemma Githago “
The book explains it’s the weed in the parable of the weeds.
“ When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared “ Matthew 13:26.
I purchased some seed, sowed them, watered and loved them. They have in turn germinated, grown flowered and set seed. I’ve loved having this plant in my garden, It’s small purple flowers have delighted me, it’s seeds heads fascinated me.
I’ve learnt it’s genus name Agrostemma is derived from the Greek word argos ( field) Stemma ( crown) – the jewel of the field.
I’ve learnt how it’s roots, stems and seeds are poisonous. If harvested with the wheat any bread made that contains its seeds will be bitter and can even be fatal.
Its been a jewel in my garden this year a wild flower on the edge of extinction in abundance and thriving.
But it’s come in under total false pretences.
Doing a little more research the more probable weed in the parable of the weed is darnel “ Lolium temulentum” it’s also known as Cockle or false wheat.
It has many similarities to Corn Cockle both are poisonous and both spoil the wheat crop.
I’ve seen so much beauty in the Corn Cockle, I’m not going to pull it up just because it’s not what I thought it was, I cherish all my plants, they are all precious to me.
The Corn Cockle is not a weed it’s a loved plant that enhances my meadow and ensures the survival of a plant on the edge of extinction.
Its going to be another journey as I source and plant darnel. I’m excited to be sowing this monster sized grass, excited by the conversations it will cultivate. It will be a blessing to share the parable of the weeds when I open my garden next year.
This giant grass will totally over shadow my Corn Cockle with its small delicate flowers. But it’s story will also be told, It’s a story of double checking , cross referencing learning to evaluate the sources and information I use for reference.
Question 6 on the BAP ( Bishops adversary panel ) form asks you to tick one of two boxes . The trouble is I don’t fit simply into one box.
God created me to live life muddy. To find an immense amount of joy from creation. When outside my confidence sours, I think big, I think beyond the walls of a box, I lift myself to Jesus breathing in air that so full of a love that’s beyond our understanding .
My shape is God given, it’s just not box shaped. My shape is created for me. I can’t change it, I can’t be squeezed into a different shape. I can’t function unless I can be true to my shape and true to God. The wonderful thing is that we have our own shape. And yes some of us are box shaped, but not me.
It would be a very plan and predictable world if we all fitted neatly into tick boxes. If we could define our personalities by ticking box A or B
I simply cannot fit and function in a box I can’t conform to its organised neatness.
The trouble with questions that only allow A or B answer is they don’t allow for us to express ourselves it’s saying you can only be one.
I just don’t fit neatly into one, I’m always the odd one out doing my own thing. I’m not trying to be awkward or prove a point, I’m not wired. I am just being true to myself and true to my calling
This also applies to my future ministry it would need to be a different shape out of the confines of what some may consider normal or different . It’s a shape open to ideas, it’s a shape that fits in with the people.
My ministry would include all those that don’t fit into boxes, It would be for those whose boxes are crumpled, whose boxes are broken and those whose boxes have been flattened by society.
I am hearing a calling that’s rooted and grounded in God’s love. Taking that love to the unchurched in a context that they understand. It’s leaning their language and seeing the world that they live in through their eyes. It’s dancing forward while talking creative sideway steps that come from God.
John 1:14 The Message (MSG)
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
Submerged into the stillness of creation.
Feet deep in dew-laden grass.
In solitude, the words come.
How do you write about the silence.
Explain the things we cannot see.
The wordless whispers of silent conversations.
Floating drifting words.
Ladened in love.
It’s the language of the heart.
Dictated to my mind.
Translating storing words before they fade into daydreams.
Capturing the silence.
Whispered softly from the heart.
Words become thoughts
Talk of truths.
Inspire my imitation.
Sparks of love.
Gently moving forward.
Always saying I am here.